Guide - Balcony vegetable garden

What is needed

Our plants Hobby Orto, a tub for cultivating along with its water tank, a watering can, a spade, a rake, a sack of expanded clay, 160 liters of soil, 0.5 kg of organic fertilizer, and a sheet of non-woven fabric.

First phase

The groove at the bottom of the tub is filled with a layer of expanded clay. Expanded clay is an inert, granular material that is very stable and which does not release toxic substances. Clay, besides keeping the soil fresh and humid, has a draining effect thanks to its macroporosity, which guarantees an outflow of water, thereby helping the plants avoid rot to their rootage caused by stagnant water.

Second phase

On the layer of expanded clay, a sheet of filtering synthetic material called "non-woven fabric" is applied. Non-woven fabric is a breathable material that, while letting air and water pass - indispensable as they are to the proper growth of the plant - impedes the soil from ending up at the bottom of the tub and compromising the irrigation system. One can also wrap the plants with the non-woven fabric to protect them both from the winter cold and from atmospheric dust caused by pollution (phenomena which can occur on the balconies of big cities).

Third phase

The tub is filled with a mixture of peat and earth. Peat is an organic material which derives from the decomposition of some kinds of mosses (called >sphagnum in cold, humid environments. Peat, being soft and fibrous, makes the soil less compact, allowing for good drainage. It also has a good capacity to retain water.

Fourth phase

Before proceeding to planting, it is necessary to fertilize the ground with a natural, organic fertilizer (e.g. manure) or with a synthetic, slow-release fertilizer. With a rake, the fertilizer is distributed in depth, the largest clods are broken, and the ground is leveled.

Fifth phase

It is now the moment to proceed with the planting of the seedlings, with the help of a small spade. The species to cultivate vary depending on the season (in spring: salads, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, squashes, etc; in autumn: cabbages, broccoli, salads, chicory, etc.). The tub may contain from 6 to 15 seedlings depending on the vegetable that one decides to cultivate. When the planting is finished, the soil is watered to compact it around the seedlings.

Sixth phase

Fill the tub's water tank with the watering can. The water tank can hold 6 liters and permits total autonomy in terms of watering which varies between 7 and 15 days, depending on the typology of the plant cultivated and on the season. The water on the bottom of the tub rises thanks to a phenomenon of capillary rise; in this way, the aerial part of the plant does not get wet, thus reducing the possibility of an onset of fungal diseases that come with the presence of water on the leaves.

Seventh phase

During the cultivation cycle, watering is ensured by the tub's water tank. As for the fertilization, an organic liquid fertilizer can be diluted in the irrigation water, in cadenced intervals. Every once in a while, it is advised to hoe the soil around the plants to better aerate it. After an undetermined amount of time, depending on the season and the species cultivated, one can begin harvesting what one has planted. Good work!